9 Breastfeeding Latch Tricks from IBCLCs
Lactation consultants share their favorite ways to get baby to latch to ensure breastfeeding success…
You’ve probably heard that a good latch is the foundation to successful breastfeeding.
And it’s true! If breastfeeding hurts, that’s a huge red flag that you may need to fix your baby’s latch.
With a good latch breastfeeding will be comfortable for you and baby will get enough milk.
With a BAD one breastfeeding may be painful and baby won’t get enough milk.
Even if your baby has a bad latch, there are some latch tricks and positions you can try to try to get your baby to latch better.
Some top lactation consultants from around the world share insider tricks on how they encourage breastfeeding mothers and babies to get a perfect latch.
Here's their best advice...
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latch trick #1: Get comfy and skin-to-skin with your baby
"I encourage lots of skin on skin contact and relaxing with your baby in a place where you feel comfortable. A lovely warm space allows you both to promote the optimal place for a good breastfeed.”
-Katrina Tucker, IBCLC at The Babybrain
latch trick #2: watch for early hunger cues
"I encourage you to watch for early cues of newborn hunger, such as licking their lips or rooting. Initiating latch before baby gets frustrated can help with baby opening wide and being more patient as you and baby get comfortable.
Since crying is a late stage hunger cue, it's quite possible that baby has gotten so hangry that they just shut down when you finally get them latched.”
-Naya Weber, IBCLC at It's More Than Milk Lactation Services
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latch trick #3: Get your body comfortable first.
"You won’t sustain a great latch with a tired neck or shoulders. Move the baby into a position that is secure and can be supported with one arm. The last thing to adjust is the breast."
-Danielle Downs Spradlin, IBCLC at Oasis Lactation Services
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latch trick #4: use the laid back position
-Julie Matheney, MS, CCC-SLP, IBCLC at The LA Lactation Lady
"I love the laid back position (aka the biological nursing position). When baby is laid tummy to tummy and is comfortable, the baby can typically latch all on its own without much intervention."
latch trick #5: Breastfeed belly-to-belly
"Imagine velcro attaching their belly to your belly.”
-Beverley Rae, MSW, IBCLC at Breastfeeding Resources
Latch Trick #6: line up baby’s nose to your nipple.
"Make sure your baby is correctly lined up with nose to nipple and you start the bottom lip of the baby at the bottom of the areola.
Many moms do not wait for a wide open mouth because they feel rushed and don’t fully understand what they’re able to achieve with a deeper latch."
-Leilani Songer, IBCLC at Breastfeeding Fixers
latch trick #7: sandwich your breast
"Compress the breast as if it was a BIG sandwich for which you want to mold down to the size of your baby’s mouth to get a better fit.
Match the shape of the sandwich to the opening of your baby's mouth. This keeps you focused on how you’re compressing your breast since at times women tend to squeeze the breast in a way that hinders baby's ability to latch on."
-Ileana Berrios, IBCLC at Breastfeeding Latinas
Latch trick #8: use baby’s natural instincts
"Relax and use baby's natural instinct to latch - give baby some room to open wide by keeping your hand off the back of their head.
Drag your nipple down their mouth to elicit their natural gape reflex.
Remember it's breastfeeding, not nipple feeding! They need lots of tissue for a comfortable latch!”
-Mary Unangst, IBCLC at Sweet Songs Breastfeeding
latch trick #9: experiment to find what works best for you.
"If mom is comfortable and baby is getting milk it’s a winner! Don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works best for you."
- Chelsea DeSorbo, IBCLC at Bliss Lactation
Need more help with your baby’s latch? Check out our blog post where IBCLCs share how to fix a shallow latch.